COMPRESSED EGGPLANT & GRUYERE SLICES

This recipe blew my little mind… You need two special gadgets to make it, a mandolin-type slicer and a vacuum sealer. My slicer is an OXO, easier to work and adjust than the original French model. Super thin slices of eggplant with a little cheese in the middle get compressed and later roasted at high temperature. It is eggplant like I’ve never had before.

COMPRESSED EGGPLANT & GRUYERE SLICES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Chef Tony Botella)

1 large eggplant, sliced very thin (3mm maximum) with a mandolin
Gruyere cheese cut in thin slices
Herbes de Provence to taste
salt to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
balsamic vinegar to taste
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Lay one eggplant slice on a flat surface, place a slice of cheese in the center, sprinkle with Herbes the Provence. Place another eggplant slice on top, carefully slide into a vacuum-sealable bag. Once all the little sandwiches are done, seal the bag. Place in the fridge for at least one hour, but you can leave it for a couple of days.

Fifteen minutes before dinner, remove them from the bag and place on a silicone mat, gently brush with olive oil gently on both sides, season with salt. Roast at 425F for 12 minutes, until golden. A little cheese might escape to the side, nothing wrong with that, the silicone mat makes it easier to lift.

Cut each slice in half, place in a serving dish, drizzle with balsamic and sprinkle almonds on top.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe click here

Comments: The key to this recipe is slicing the eggplant very thin. I doubt you will be able to do it by hand, so a mandolin is a must. I think different types of cheese could be fun to try, for instance a cheese with Habanero to heat things up. But it must be a reasonably sturdy cheese to avoid excessive melting. Gruyere was perfect.

I normally don’t care for the eggplant skin, but in this preparation it did not hurt anything. I will be making this again soon. It would be great as a little special appetizer at a dinner party, with a nice sourdough bread to go with it. Or as a first course on a meal. A fun new technique to play with!

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SPICY CITRUS PEANUT SALAD

I’ve made variations of this recipe three times in the past month. I am a bit obsessed with the dressing, that has the right amount of heat and very mild hint of sweetness. The original recipe was published in the blog Naturally Nidhi, and you can find it here.

SPICY CITRUS PEANUT SALAD
(slightly modified from Naturally Nidhi)

makes 2 servings

for the salad:
2 oranges , peeled and segmented
greens of your choice (I used green leaf lettuce), amount enough for two
1/4 cup peanuts, roasted and salted

for the dressing:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp poppy seeds
salt to taste

In a serving bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Add the greens, toss to coat uniformly with the dressing. Add the orange segments, peanuts and toss gently. Adjust seasoning if needed with a little salt.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: In her blog post, Nidhi used arugula. If you like to pump the sharpness-spicy level up, go for it. We like to use lettuce, I made it once with red leaf lettuce, another with butter lettuce, they all go quite well with all other ingredients. The dressing, so simple, packs a ton of flavor, I bet it would be great brushed oven a nice piece of salmon before grilling it. I simplified it a bit, so make sure to check her blog post for a more complex version.

We enjoyed it with rotisserie-style chicken from our grocery store, and no, I am not ashamed to confess it. Sometimes it is good to make life easier and concentrate on making just a salad and a side dish.

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RAW ZUCCHINI AND CHICKPEA SALAD WITH TAHINI YOGURT

This whole meal was superb, main dish and salad from Josette’s blog, that I am super fond of. The salad stole the show, but I will give you the link to the Turkish chicken so you can have the whole gastronomic experience. I would definitely serve this for company. Simple to put together, awesome in flavor and texture.


RAW ZUCCHINI AND CHICKPEA SALAD WITH TAHINI YOGURT
(slightly modified from Thebrookcook)

3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 T tahini
zest from 1 large lemon, plus 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp plus 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
15 1/2 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 T red wine vinegar
2 tsp za’atar
2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced on a diagonal
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint, finely chopped
2 tsp dried dill
ground sumac, to serve (optional)


In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lemon zest and juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside. In a large microwave-safe bowl, stir together the chickpeas, shallot, vinegar and za’atar. Cover and microwave for 90 seconds. Uncover and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

When the chickpeas have cooled, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the zucchini, mint, and dill. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the chickpea-zucchini mixture to a platter, spooning it around the edge. Scoop the yogurt mixture into a mound in the center of the chickpea-zucchini mixture.
Drizzle with additional oil and sprinkle with sumac, if using.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: Totally in love with this preparation of zucchini, and leftovers tasted great too. We enjoyed it with another recipe from Josette’s site, Turkish Grilled Chicken Thighs with Yogurt Marinade (for full recipe, click here). Josette has a very similar taste in food, so I am always paying attention to her posts. If you don’t follow her yet, consider doing so…

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OMG ROASTED SWEET POTATOES

If you’ve read my previous post (In My Kitchen), you will know that I’ve been playing with Korean ingredients. My version of this recipe is not authentic because I decided not to serve it cold. I love a regular roasted potato, piping hot from the oven, and let me tell you, this was one spectacular side dish! I had leftovers two days in a row, gently warmed in the microwave. No loss of flavor, no harm in texture. Please give it a try and I am sure you will fall in love…


KOREAN ROASTED SWEET POTATOES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by several sources)

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons gochugaru (or a red pepper flake of your choice)
strands of Korean red pepper for garnish (optional)

Heat the oven to 425F. Coat the potatoes with the olive oil and season with a little bit of salt. Lay them on a baking sheet protected with aluminum foil and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, moving them around halfway through. You want the edges to get nicely brown, so adjust the timing if needed.

Meanwhile, make the finishing sauce by combining the vinegar, sesame oil, gochugaru and soy sauce. Once the potatoes are almost done, pour the sauce all over and mix gently. Roast for additional 5 minutes and serve, sprinkling some strands of Korean pepper (optional).

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: I am a Sweet Potato Cheerleader, never get tired of them. In my opinion, they don’t need that much to shine, but this preparation takes them to a higher, brighter spot. It gives them, that “fancy restaurant” aura. I think it is the vinegar that changes things around. Please make it, even if you don’t have the specific Korean ingredients. We enjoyed it with breaded center-cut pork loin, and a little broccoli. A perfect midweek dinner.

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MARINATED CHICKPEAS WITH SLOW-ROASTED RED PEPPERS

I follow a group of food bloggers I completely trust. Kelly from Inspired Edibles is part of this group. When she raves about a recipe, I usually jump on making it. This is the most recent example, and I know if you make it you will rave about it also. Two things: do not be tempted to use canned chickpeas. And go for the slow-roasting of bell peppers. These two small details make the dish shine.

MARINATED CHICKPEAS WITH SLOW-ROASTED RED PEPPERS
(adapted from Inspired Edibles)

for the veggie mixture:
1 + 1/4 cup dried chickpeas (from 1 1/4 cup dry)
2 large red bell peppers, cut into strips
110 g Feta cheese
60 g pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
parsley to serve

for the marinade:
⅓ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 ½ Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
¾ tsp salt or to taste
black pepper to taste
½ Tbsp honey

Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water. Next day, drain and rinse, then cook in slightly salted water until tender, but still al dente – about 40 minutes. the chickpeas in a large pot with lots of water until desired consistency is achieved (for this recipe, I prefer the chickpeas to have some texture – not too mushy – so I aim for al dente, it takes over 1 hour). This step can be made in advance.

Heat oven to 300F and prepare the marinade by whisking together all the ingredients. Make sure when you add the honey that it gets fully integrated with the other components.

Place the cooked chickpeas (ideally still warm) in serving platter with tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese. intermingle with tomatoes, onion, olives and half of the feta. Pour the marinade over top, tossing gently to combine.

While the chickpea mixture marinades at room temperature, spread the sliced peppers out on a baking sheet, drizzle with 1.5-2 Tbsp olive oil and add a couple shakes of salt, and roast for about one hour. Add them to the chickpea mixture, and serve, sprinkled with parsley leaves.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This recipe is a winner, all the way. Leftovers were fantastic next day and even better on the second day. I warmed everything in the microwave, just barely, and there was no compromise in the texture, the taste of the marinade just got more intense. Perfect.

Make sure to stop by Kelly’s blog and read her post, as she offers a different way to enjoy it, with cucumbers in tzatziki sauce. The key is to cook the chickpeas from scratch. Totally different from canned, which works fine for other preparations such as hummus. The slow-roasting of the bell peppers is another great twist, they develop a milder flavor and very soft texture.

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